My wish list

To complete my vision for the future, here are a few things I would like to see: - a cop who knows a little about detecting crime - a cop who knows a little about directing traffic - a soldier who follows the advice of John the Baptist (Luke 3;14):

“No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!”
Likewise tax collectors: “Exact no more than your rate.”

Refuse to obey
Soldiers and police who refuse to obey immoral orders.
A young doctor who doesn’t go on strike because s/he wants a new car along with his/her graduation certificate. Is it too much to ask them about the Hippocratic Oath?

Civil servants who are really “our most obedient servants”. Our taxes pay their wages; they should respect us accordingly. In exchange for that, I’m prepared to remember their birthdays and, if possible, important anniversaries.
A government we can trust to print banknotes.

Worth printing
I wanted to say “a newspaper that prints only reports of what has happened” but that paper might be too thin to be worth printing. Instead, let’s demand an editor who:
1. bans the use of the passive voice (i.e never reports that something “was done” or “was said”. We want to know who did it or said it).

2. refuses to publish anonymous contributions, including those from unnamed “political analysts”.

3. ensures that news is new. There’s nothing new in most of the antics of most of our politicians

4. recognises that a politician’s promise is worth rather less than a harlot’s kiss and should be treated accordingly, with, at most, three lines on an inside page of H-Metro or, even better, no mention at all

5. EXCEPT when the editor wants to remind the politician that s/he will be watched and the fulfilment of the promise, or more likely it’s non-fulfilment, will get front page headlines.

6. banning all comment would be excessive, but I’d like to see an editor limit opinions to one page, maybe including readers’ letters, and mark the page in at least a 14-point typeface heading“OPINIONS”

7. and similarly, marking news reports “NEWS”. Full-page advertising that now masquerades as informative articles should carry its 14-point+ heading “ADVERTISEMENTS”

8. I’d relax that restriction on opinion for the SPORTS pages.

Twice the price
I would happily pay twice the current price for a newspaper that meets all these conditions, even though it would probably have less pages than today’s edition. If it included a good Sudoku and a real cryptic crossword, I’d consider it cheap at that price, but that’s the intellectual in me talking and it’s probably a minority opinion.
Free, fair, transparent and violence-free elections.

Trains that run regularly and more or less on time, with passenger coaches offering the seats/bunks we used to see in the old 1st, 2nd and 3rd class carriages, and on the East African Railways and Tazara. The more recent “sleeper” compartments were very expensive for what you got, and the seats in the other compartments are less comfortable than sleeping on the floor on a long journey.

The list could go on, but I’d sum it up; people respecting each other’s dignity. One old missionary who had the sense to give people a space to talk about the evils they were suffering under colonialism said all he heard boiled down to “a sense of wounded dignity”. Now some of those who expressed that woundedness try to rebuild their dignity by crushing everyone else’s. What sense is there in that?
Readers no doubt have their own wish lists. You can e-mail them to me: [email protected]

I can only promise to give maximum publicity to the suggestions I like – I don’t have to agree with them.

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